[From Wood's Accout of IoM, 1811]

Book 3 Chapter II.

From the Conquest, of Godred Crovan to the revestment of the Island in the Crown of Eng land, in 1765.1


WHILE William of Normandy, was making preparations for the invasion of England, he prevailed upon Harold's offended brother Tosti, in concert with Halfagar, King of Norway, to assist him in the enterprize by a descent upon the county of Northumberland, Their combined fleets, consisting of three hundred and sixty sail, entered the Humber; and their troops were disembarked with little molestation. Under the King of Norway commanded Godred Crovan,, son of Harold, King of Iceland. The invading army was engaged at Standford by Harold, King of England, on the 25th of September 1066: it was defeated with great slaughter, the two generals were slain, and Godred made his escape to the Isle of Man.

What time he remained here is uncertain, probably just long enough to observe that the kingdom was in a weak state, or its King: unpopular; and to determine to seat himself upon the throne.

He returned in the following year with a numerous and hostile army, and found Fingal, the late King. Syrach's son, in possession of the kingdom.

In his first battle with the inhabitants he was defeated, and obliged to seek refuge in his ships ; and, in the second, was equally unsuccessful. For the third attack he recruited and enlarged his army: he cast anchor in Ramsey Bay; landed his troops by night ; and laid an ambuscade of three hundred men in a wood, on the hollow brow of the hill of Scacafel. Early on the ensuing morning Godred was attacked with great impetuosity by the inhabitants. The action was bloody, and neither party gave way till the three hundred men, rushing from their ambush, put the islanders to flight, and decided the fortune of the day. The river Selby being impassable by the influx of the tide, the fugives were unable to escape, and with lamentable cries es besought the conqueror to spare their lives. Moved with compassion at the calamitous condition of the people, Godred recalled his pursuing army, and the next day gave his followers their choice, either to divide the lands among them, or to plunder the island and depart. Soldier-like, they gave the preference to the latter proposition: but Godred with a few of his retainers, having determined to settle in the country, made choice of that portion lying southward of the mountain ridge, and granted the remainder to the natives, on the express condition that they should consider themselves as tenants, and him as the lord of the soil. Hence the whole island became the property of the King: till the fifteenth or sixteenth century was acknowledged so to be: and, though from the year 1703 he ceased to claim any title to the land itself, his rentals were then confirmed and continue to the present day.

At this period Ireland was divided into petty principalities; and nothing can more strongly skew the weakness of such a government than the awe in which its inhabitants stood of the little Isle of Man. Dublin, the capital, was reduced by Godred ; and a great part of the province of Leinster submitted to his arms. His navy was so powerful that he was able to oblige the Scots to keep theirs within narrow bounds; and, to borrow from the Rushen Monks what I suppose is a metaphorical expression, they durst not, when building a ship or boat, drive more than three nails into it.

After a reign of sixteen years this valiant man died in Ila, one of his western islands, leaving three sons, Lagman, Harold, and Olave.

The eldest, Lagman, seized upon the government, and reigned seven years. His brother Harold was long in rebellion against him; but, being at last taken prisoner, had his eyes put out and was otherwise mutilated. Lagman afterwards repented of his unbrotherly conduct towards Harold; was overwhelmed with sorrow and despondency; renounced his kingdom; and, as an expiation of his guilt, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he died.


Olave being still a minor, the chief inhabitants of Man dispatched ambassadors to Murecard O'Brien, King of Ireland; requesting him to send some diligent man of royal extraction to rule over them during his minority. O'Brien, granting their request, sent Donald, the son of Tade, enjoining him to govern the kingdom with clemency and justice. But as soon as he was seated on the throne, he began to act the part of a tyrant, and behaved with so much cruelty and outrage that the inhabitants, unable to endure his oppression, conspired, rose up in arms, and obliged him to fly back to Ireland, whence he never attempted to return.


In the year 1097 the King of Norway endeavoured to seize the sovereignty of the Isle of Man and of the Hebrides, and sent Ingemund to take possession of them. He landed in Lewis, and commanded all the chiefs of the islands to elect him king. In the mean time he and his attendants rioted in plunder, feasting, and all sorts of debauchery, ravishing women and virgins. The inhabitants, being enraged against him, besieged his house in the night time, set it on fire, and thus destroyed in the flames or by the sword himself and his retinue.


Macinarus was the next king of Man but who he was, and what title he had to the crown, history does not inform us. His election to the dignity occasioned civil broils between the southern and northern districts of the island The inhabitants of the former were headed by the king whom they had elected; those of the latter, the original natives, by Earl Outher. The armies met, and a battle was fought in the parish of St. Patrick. According to the Manks tradition the northern men had nearly won the victory, when the women of the south side came with so much resolution to the assistance of their husbands that they restored the battle; and, as a reward for their bravery, enjoyed one half of their husbands' estate during their widowhood, while their northern countrywomen had only one third,2 The Chronicon Manniae, however, the foundation of this chapter, ascribes the victory to the inhabitants of the northern district. Both the generals were slain:

At this time Magnus, grandson to Harold Halfagar, was King of Norway. Having, contrary to the injunctions of his clergy, caused the tomb of St. Olave, King and Martyr, to be opened, in order to know whether the body remained incorrupt; and having with his own hands and eyes ascertained that it did so, he was seized with great fear, and hastily departed. In the ensuing night the offended saint appeared before the affrighted King, and thus addressed him: " Take thy choice of these two commands lose thy kingdom and thy life within thirty days; or quit this realm for ever." Early in the morning the King convened his nobles and the elders of his people; told them what a vision he had seen; and asked their advice respecting his future conduct. They recommended him to leave the kingdom with all possible dispatch and pursuant to this determination he equipped a fleet of one hundred and sixty vessels, and left Norway for a foreign realm. The Orcades were the first islands that felt and yielded to his power; and the Hebrides quickly followed their example. Hence he sailed to the Isle of Man, and landed in the isle or parish of St. Patrick, the very day after the battle between the northern and southern inhabitants; and proceeded to view the field of action which was still strewed with the bodies of the slain. The Manks, weakened by internal dissensions, submitted to him without a contest. Being pleased with the island, he determined to settle in it, and erected several forts for its defence. The men of Galloway were so much overawed by the terror of his name, that at his command they cut down timber, and brought it in their own vessels to the coasts of Man.

Finding every thing peaceable in his own kingdom, he invaded Anglesey, defeated an army, commanded by the Earls of Chester and of Shrewsbury, and received the submission of the people. Having accepted many presents from the northern counties of Wales, he returned to Man.

Such were his lofty behaviour and his power that he sent his shoes to Murecard O'Brien, commanding him to carry them on his shoulders through the middle of his house, on Christmasday, in the presence of his messengers, in order to signify his subjection to King Magnus. The Irish, as might have been expected, received this command with the greatest indignation : but their King, conscious of the weakness of his nation, replied, that he would not only carry, but even eat the shoes, rather than King Magnus should destroy one province of Ireland. So he complied with the order, treated the messengers with great respect, and sent them back with presents for their master.

Magnus, on their return, questioned them respecting Ireland, and heard so much of its situation, of the beauty of the country, the fertility of the soil., and the salubrity of the air, that he turned his thoughts wholly to the conquest of that kingdom, He gave orders for the preparation of a large fleet, and in the mean time sailed with sixteen vessels to take a view of the country, Having incautiously left the ships, his party was surrounded by the offended Irish, and himself with nearly all his followers were slain. His reign over Man and the islands lasted six years. Perhaps England was never more formidable to the states of Europe, than was the Isle of Man to its neighbouring and comparatively great kingdoms in the reigns of Godred Crovan, and of Magnus,

During the usurpation of the King of Norway, Olave, the son of Godred, resided in England in the court of Henry the First. On the death of their King they sent a deputation to Olave to offerhim the crown.


He ascended the throne to the great satisfaction of the people he made treaties with all the K ings of Ireland and of Scotland ; and enjoyed in profound peace a. reign of forty years.


In the year 1142, he sent his son Godred to Norway, to do homage for the crown of Man. During his absence the three sons of ,Harold, Olave's brother, who had been educated at Dublin, came to Man with many followers, particularly such as had been banished from the island, and demanded one half of Olave's kingdom. The King, willing to pacify them, promised to consult his council on the subject. The place of meeting was near Ramsey Haven. The King with his retinue sat in due order on oneside, while his nephews with their followers placed themselves on the other. Reginald, one of the nephews, being addressed by the King, approached his seat and appeared to be going to salute him, but, suddenly lifting up his shining battle axe, cut off his head at one blow. Olave left one legitimate son, Godred, by his wife Africa, daughter of Fergus of Galloway. By his concubines he had Reginald, Lagman, and Harold, besides many daughters, one of whom, married to Somerled, Prince or Duke of Argyle, afterwards occasioned the ruin of the kingdom of the Isles.

The people yielded without resistance to the wicked, but successful conspirators ; and the three brothers divided among themselves the lands of Man,

In the same year they collected a fleet, intending to make a conquest of the country of Galloway; but the natives, on their landing, fell upon the troops with violence, defeated them with great slaughter, and obliged the remnant of the army to return to Man.


Just at this time Godred, Olave's son, returned from Norway and the usurpers submitted to his authority without hazarding a battle. One of them, in all probability the immediate murderer of his father, he put to death, and punished the other two with the loss of their eyes.

In the third year of his reign he was created, at the request of its inhabitants, King of Dublin. Murecard O'Brien, having made war against him, sent to Dublin an army of three thousand horse, which was routed by the Dublinians with Godred at their head.

The King, on his return to Man after this engagement, began to act in a despotic manner, depriving some of his nobles of their property. One of them, Thorfin, the son of Oter, mightier than the rest., went over to Sumerled in Scotland, and having reduced to his subjection many of the islands, proclaimed his son Dugball their Nng. Godred, hearing of these things, fitted

out a considerable navy, and sailed against Sumerled who was advancing with eighty sail of ships.


The fleets met on the night preceding the feast of Epiphany, and fought a dreadful and indecisive battle. On the following morning, the commanders made a treaty, agreeing to divide between them the kingdom of the isles. ,


The peace was of short duration; for, two years afterwards, Sumerled sailed to the Isle of Man with fifty-three ships; defeated Godred who fled to Norway for assistance; and laid waste the country.


It appears that Somerled reigned over Man six years, at the expiration of which period, having collected a large fleet, he invaded.Scotland, intending to conquer the whole of that kingdom. His troops were landed at Renfrew ; were vanquished in the first engagement; and himself and his son were slain in the field of battle.

In the same year Reginald, natural son of Olave, having raised a party in his favour, fought, and defeated by treachery, an army of the people of Man.

Four days after the commencement of his reign, Godred arrived from Norway with a great army ; attacked and took prisoner Reginald, put out his eyes, and treated him with other marks of severity.


In the year 1176 we first hear of the Pope's influence in Man. He sent over from Ireland his legate Vivian, who obliged Godred to be re-married, according to the form of the Romish church, to his wife Phingola, granddaughter to Murecard O'Brien, her son Olave being at that time three years old.


Godred died in the month of November of the year 1157, leaving one legitimate child, Olave, ten years old, whom he had made his heir, and two natural sons, Reginald and Yvar. In the summer of the following ,year, his body was conveyed for interment to the Isle of Iona.

On account of Olave's youth, the inhabitants of the Isle of Man sent to the Isles (or Hebrides) for Reginald, and made him their King.


In the year 1192 a battle was fought in the Isles between Reginald and Engus, one of the sons of Somerled, in which the latter gained the victory.


John Curcy had conquered the proviuce of Ulster, and married Africa, Reginald's sister. In 1203 Hugh Lacy attacked Ulster with a large army, made John Curcy prisoner, and conquered the whole province. John, being afterwards set at liberty, besought and obtained the assistance of Reginald in regaining his land. They sailed to Strangford bay with one hundred ships, and laid siege to Rath castle; but being in their first engagement obliged to retreat to their ships, never attempted to return.


John of England sent to the Isle of Man an Earl, named Fulco, Reginald being as usual absent in the Isles, who, having laid waste the country and plundered the people, returned.

When Olave came to man's estate, his brother Reginald gave to him the Isle of Lewis, one of the largest of the Hebrides, but mountainous and barren, with few people, and these gaining their livelihood by hunting and fishing. Olave took possession of the island, and for some time lived there in a mean condition: but being unable to maintain his army, he went boldly to Reginald and thus addressed him:


My Brother and my Sovereign! you well know that the kingdom which you possess was mine by right of inheritance; but since God hath made you its King, I will not envy either your good fortune or your crown. I only beg of you so much land in these isles as may maintain me honourably; for upon Lewis I cannot live." Reginald, in reply, told his brother that he would take the opinion of his council upon the request. The day following when Olave, by the King's order, came into his presence, he was apprehended and carried to William, King of Scotland, to be imprisoned in that kingdom. There he was confined for nearly seven years, at the end of which time William died, having directed that on his death all prisoners should be enlarged. Olave, being thus at liberty, went to Man, and left that island on a pilgrimage. On his return, Reginald gave him Lewis again, and made him marry Lavon, a sister of his own wife. Very shortly afterwards the bishop of the Isles called a synod and divorced Olave from Lavon, because she was a cousin-german of his former wife. Olave then married Christina, daughter of the Earl of Ross; which conduct so much offended Reginald's wife, that she sent a message, in her husband's name, to her son Godred, who resided in the Isle of Sky, commanding him to kill Olave. While Godred was contriving to execute this order, Olave being informed of Godred's design, escaped in a little boat to his new father-in-law, leaving his enemy to lay waste the island. At this time Pol, a powerful man in Sky, and disaffected towards Godred, came over to the Earl of Ross, and lived with Olave at his house. They entered into a league, and learning by their spies that Godred lay in Iona in a very careless and defenceless state, they collected their friends 'and sailed with five ships to that island, where they landed early in the morning. Godred was in great consternation when he saw himself surrounded by armed men ; but made a resolute though unsuccessful resistance. Being taken prisoner he had his eyes put out and was castrated by the order of Pol.


Olave having received hostages from the nobles of the Isles, set sail for Man, and arrived at Derby-haven. Reginald, deeming it imprudent to risk a battle, agreed to grant to Olave one half of the Isles.

The next year, Reginald in conjunction with Allan, Lord of Galloway, a powerful Scot, sailed to the Isles, intending to dispossess their new Sovereign: but the army, consisting chiefly of Manksmen, and having a partiality for Olave, refused to fight against him, and obliged their commander to return home.

Reginald, who did homage to the King of England, obtained from the inhabitants of Man one hundred marks to pay the expense of a journey to his court. It was soon discovered that the proposed journey was nothing but a pretext; for Reginald proceeded immediateiy to Allan's court, and during his stay in Galloway married his daughter. The Manks, indignant at these proceedings, sent for Olave, and made him King. [1226.]-Thus Reginald lost his crown after a reign of thirty-eight years.


In the second year after his accession, Olave, with all the nobility, and many of the inhabitants of Man, sailed over to the Isles. Reginald, in order to bring religion, to his aid, had made a surrender of his lost kingdom to the see of Rome ; a copy of which act is still extant. He prevailed upon Allan, and Thomas, Earl of Athol, to seize with him the opportunity of Olave's absence to make a descent upon the Isle., of Man. They wasted all the southern part of it, spoiled the. churches, and put to death so many of the inhabitants that the whole country was a scene of desolation. Having thus gratified their revenge, the invaders returned to Galloway, leaving bailiffs to collect tribute from the people: but King Olave, coming upon these men unexpectedly, put them to flight and recovered his kingdom.

In the ensuing winter Reginald came to the Isle of Man in the dead of the night, and burned all the ships in Peel-harbour. Thence be proceeded to Derby-haven where he remained forty days, soliciting peace of his brother, and endeavouring to gain the affections of the inhabitants. So far he obtained his purpose that the southern men swore to assist him with their lives in recovering half of the kingdom. The northern men adhered to Olave ; and on the 14th February, 1228, the two brothers came to an engagement, near the Tinwald hill, which terminated in the victory of Olave, and the death of Reginald.

Reginald appears to have been a man of ambition and of abilities, but destitute of virtue, treacherous, unjust, and cruel ; always ready to gain an end by any means. During the latter part of his reign the inhabitants lived in that miserable and unsettled state necessarily attendant upon a dread of their own tyrant, and constant apprhension of a foreign foe.


Olavetwent to Norway to do homage to Haco for his crown, and on his return, was accompanied by that king, Godred Don, the son of Reginald, and many Norwegians. Haco; in attacking a castle in the Isle of Rute, was killed by a stone, and buried in Iona. Olave and Godred Don divided the Isles between them; the former retaining posssession . of Man : but the latter being slain soon afterwards in Lewis, Olave became sole king.


Henry the Third of England granted to him a certain annuity in silver coin and wine for defending the sea coast.3

After the enjoyment of a peaceful reign he died in St. Patrick's Isle, and was buried in Rushen Abbey.


Harold, at fourteen years of age, succeeded to his father's crown.

In the first year of his reign he went to the, Isles, making Loglen, his kinsman, Governor of Man: but in the spring following returned.


Having refused to appear at the court of the king of Norway, the Isle of Man was invaded by Norwegian army,' ynder Gospattick and Gillchrist who converted` the tributes of the country to the service of tileir dwri kind.


Harold being induced to submit, sailed over,to the king of Norwy; did him his accustomed homage, and was confirmed in the possession of all the* islands which his predecessors havd enj'oy'ed. ips 1342.]--=0n liis ietrn home, fie xdd pac with the kings of England and of Scotland.,


He paid a Visit ta the former; war knighted by him, and received many tokens of his favour

Soon afterwards the king of Norway offered him his daughter in marriage, and Harold sailed accordingly to that kingdom. The newly martied couple enjoyed for a very short tune their expected happiness. for, during their voyage; homeward a sudden storri unfortunately arose: the ship on which they wer aboard was wrecked and the whole crew perished.


Harold's brother Reginald was the next king of Man : but a few days after his accession to the throne, be wait slain by Yvar, a knight, in a meadow in the southern district;

It is said, (but not in the Chronicon Manniae) that the king and Yvar were enamoured of the same damsel; that the lady returned the affections of Yvar; but that Reginald carried her away by force. Hence Reginald paid for his injustice with his blood, and the two lovers made their, escape to Ireland.

Harold, the son of Godred Don, now assumed the title of king, and banished many of the chief inhabitants :


but, having received and obeyed an order to go to Norway, he was imprisoned by the king of that nation for his usurpation of the government.


Magnus, the son of Olave was the, next king of Man and the Isles, under the sanction of the Norwegian monarch.


On a visit to the English court he was knighted by the king.


He died at Rushen castle. in 1265, and was there buried,


Magnus, king of Norway, finding himself unable to retain the sovereignty of the western isles, agreed to surrender them to Alexander the third, king of Scotland, on receiving, from him four thousand marks of silver immediately, and one hundred marks a year in future.

Not long afterwards Alexander reduced the Isleof Man, and made this treaty with Regulus, a man whom he had appointed king over it that Alexander should defend the country from all foreign enemies, and that Regulus should furnish Scotland, when required, with ten ships.


John Waldebeof, a great-grandson of king Reginald, thinking himself: entitled to the Isle of Man, preferred his claim' before Edward the First of England, as lord-paramount over the king of Scotland. But he received no other answer than that he might prosecute his claim before the justices of the king's bench, and have justice done him.

What Waldebeof could not effect by right, William de Montacute, another descendant ofi Reginald, accomplished by arms. With a body of English troops, hastily collected, he drove all the Scots out of the island: but having contraeted a considerable debt-for this war, and being unable to discharge it, he mortgaged the island and its revenues for seven years to Anthony Bec, bishop of Durham and patriarch of Jerusalem, to whom the king afterwards gave it for life.


King Edward- the Second bestowed this island upon Piers Gaveston, when he created him Earl of Cornwall, and, on his death upon Henry Beaumont, -.with all the demesnes and royal jurisdiction."

The Scots, under Robert Bruce, afterwards re.covered it, and retained it in their possession till the year 1340, when William de Montacute, the younger, earl of Salisbury, under the sanction of Edward the Third wrested it from that nation, and according to Walshingham, sold it to .William Scroop. This nobleman being executed for high treason, and his estates being confiscated, the Isle of Man reverted to the crown of England, and was granted by Henry the Fourth to , Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, on condition that he and his posterity, at the coronation of the kings of England, should bear the sword, worn by that monarch on his return from France in 1399.


Henry Percy was attainted four years afterwards, and though subsequently restored in blood, and to his estates in England, the Isle of Man was permanently forfeited,, and given, with, the patronage of the Bishopric and all other.ecoclesiastical benefices, to William Stanley and his heirs, afterwards earl of Derby, to be held by " liege homage, and the service of rendering to the English monarchs two falcons on their coronation

If at this time the dependence of the Manks nation was confirmed, the inhabitants became more secure in their possessions and less apprehensive of contending factions at home, or enemies abroad.

The royalties and revenues of Man descended regularly, and without molestation, from ancestor to heir till the time of William, the sixth earl of Derby, against whose title some objections were started and legally removed. To put the matter beyond all doubt, William obtained from James I. a new grant of the Isle of Man which was confirmed by act of parliament.

This island was one of the last places which yielded to the authority of Cromwell. General Ireton proposed to James, earl of Derby, on the part of the parliament, the repossession of his estates in England provided he would surrender the Isle of Man: but this proposal the earl treated with the greatest indignation, and declared his determination to hang any future messenger from that quarter, The earl, being taken prisoner in England, was executed at Bolton, October 15, 1651, and the defence of the Isle of Man was undertaken by his lady. - The countess possessed enthusiasm equal to her husband's, and determined to defend Castle Rushen, to which - she had retired, to the last extremity: but Christian, in whom she confided, and who had the command of the Manks forces, deeming hers a hopeless cause, capitulated to Colonels Birch and Duckenfield, who with ten armed vessels, had invaded the island. The Isle of Man was granved by the parliament to lord Fairfax ; but on the accession of Charles the Second was restored to the earl of Derby, son of him who had been beheaded. Christian was found guilty of treason, and executed in Man.

In this family it continued till 1735, at which time James, earl of Derby, died without issue, and the inheritance devolved upon James, second duke of uthol, who was descended from Lady Amelia Sophia, the youngest daughter of seventh earl of Derby.

John, the last of this family who enjoyed the royalties of Man, inherited by descent the dukerdom of Athol ; and obtained by his marriage with the daughter of the late duke the kingdom of Man. ,

This duke and his duchess, as we have already seen, sold to the king of England, in 1765, the. regalities and revenues of Man,


1 This chapter, to the Scottish conquest, is written on- the authority of the Chronicon Maniae, a work composed by the Monks of Rushen Abbey, and published 'by Camden in his Britannia. The style of the Latin is that usually termed monkish and very bad of the sort: Prepositions are used for adverbs; " et nunquam ultra deversus est ad eos" It it a considerable time since I saw it in the original, and then read very little of it. Being unable to meet with it in my present place of residence, I have made use of Gough's Camden, to which likewise I am indebted for most of the latter part of this chapter.

2 Sacheverel

3 "No. 3. Anno 19 H. 3. 1234.Pro Olavo, rege Manniae, de custodia costerarum maris, ac ejus foedo. Notatu dignissimae. 5. 1:" Minutes of Council. See Bree's Cursory Sketch of the Reign of Edward the Third, taken wholly from ancient manuscripts in the British Museum and elsewhere, 1791, vol. 1. p. 379.


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